Foundation Roommates Bike Cross-Country

Foundation Roommates Bike Cross-Country

When Max Frieder 12 PT and Alan Johnson 12 PT were thrown together as roommates their first year at RISD, they had little idea that nine months later they would embark on a profound artistic adventure together. Exhilarated at making it through their first year, the two friends decided to bike cross-country, camping and making art from the Golden Gate Bridge to Narragansett Bay.

Though neither one had biked much before, they traveled 4,000 miles in total. Their bulging sketchbooks, packed with thousands of photos and fabulous stories, only touch on the full meaning of their “eye-opening” road trip. “Biking across the country was an awesome way to see things,” says Max, who grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and hadn’t ever seen “the face of middle America.”

With hand-painted shirts and helmets and bikes loaded with interesting bits of paraphernalia gathered along the way, the two definitely stood out. They quickly discovered that all sorts of people, including clergymen, pizza delivery guys, anarchists, and bike couriers, happily invited them into their homes. For Alan, who is from Denver, the people they met along their meandering route proved that “America is full of really good people.”

Throughout the trip, the two friends created small gifts of art to leave with generous people who invited them in or shared a meal with them. They painted murals inside some of the collectives where they slept and made art with little kids at a Food Not Bombs gathering in Omaha.

Just three days before classes started, they biked into Providence, with a euphoric sense of accomplishment. “I definitely know things now—about people, this country, myself—that I didn’t know before,” Alan said. “We really feel like we made as much of an impact on the people we met as they did on us. It makes us feel like we really can change the world through art.”

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